‘Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine’ : The Citizen received this letter from Gaza “the open air prison” to Ibeyi , a French-Cuban musical duo of twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz The duo sings in English and Yoruba,a Nigerian language and are set to perform in Israel.

Scholars, artists, writers, singers from Gaza have issued this heart-rending letter urging the two to join musicians like Carlos Santana, Roger Waters, Pink Floyd, Elvis Costello, Annie Lennox, Pete Seeger, and a host of others in showing solidarity with the besieged Palestinians. “We love music, we have own wide range of music and dance that we love to play and perform. But we have few instruments. Israel has removed our music. Israel’s air, land and sea blockade of our borders has meant for years musical instruments were banned from entry to Gaza as the Israeli Apartheid regime decided that we as Palestinians should also be deprived of coriander, nutmeg, dried fruit, ginger, fresh meat, lentils, cattle, workbooks, newspapers…” the letter appealing to the two musicians states.

The full text :

Dear Ibeyi

We are Palestinian academics, activists, workers, students, women and youth based in Gaza, among 1.8 million confined to a strip of land half the size of Havana. Most of our population are children. We are surrounded by the Israeli military machine, the most well-armed in the Middle East. Our land borders are controlled by Israeli Merkava tanks, Jeeps, snipers and remote-controlled tower turrets shoot our farmers and the families living nearby. In the sea you can see the Israeli Gunships chasing our fishermen, denying them the right to fish, destroying the industry and livelihoods. In our skies we have known nothing except Israeli F16 fighter-jets and unmanned Hermes drones, that regularly bomb our densely populated civilian areas. By practising on us, in the Gaza human laboratory, Israel has become the king of the drone industry and leading manufacturer worldwide. We are calling on you to boycott Israel until we no longer have to live like this.

In 2005 over 170 Palestinian civil society organisations called for the boycott, divestment and sanction of Israel until Palestinians are deemed human enough to not be expected to live in a permanent Israeli prison. To not be denied basic rights - cultural, academic and sporting rights while our economy is de-developed by Israel’s 67 year long ethnic-cleansing and military occupation of our land and people. Diplomacy has been tried for years and has not worked. Since the height of “diplomacy” - the Oslo accords in 1994, Israel has usurped more Palestinian territory, intensified the occupation and substantially increased the daily violence.

Our population in Gaza can only wait for the bombs. Palestinians have no navy, no air force, no air defence, armoured vehicles or heavy weapons. Most of us cannot leave Gaza due to Israel’s control of all our borders. During the 51 day "protective edge" attacks the Israeli military is estimated to have unleashed on our population the explosive power of an atom bomb the United States dropped on Japan in August 1945.

According to the United Nations over 2200 of us were killed in Gaza in the 51 days of the summer of 2014 by these bombs, shells, bullets, shrapnel and falling concrete from the 18,000 houses that were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. The vast majority of those killed were civilians including 299 women and 551 children – 187 girls and 313 boys. Of the 73 Israelis killed, 67 of them were armed soldiers attacking Gaza. 90 entire Palestinian families were wiped off the citizen registry and of the 11231 Palestinians wounded, up to 1000 are expected to have permanent disabilities. 1500 orphaned children will need long-term support and social welfare.

Yet the world not only turns its back, but Israel receives substantial commercial, diplomatic and military aid from Europe, while the US gives Israel £3 billion a year and billions more in weapons grants. That is by far more aid than any country receives globally. Israel is rewarded for their war crimes, just as they are rewarded by normalisation with other countries, musicians, academics and artists, while we rot in the Gaza dungeon, cut off from the world.

Anti-Apartheid heroes Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Ronnie Kasrils, and former American president Jimmy Carter, have all described Israel’s control and 67 year collective punishment of the Palestinians as Apartheid - a brutal, colonial system based on racial discrimination. Archbishop Tutu, who has been to Palestine has called for all musicians to boycott the Israeli Apartheid Regime and said that a South African Opera group ‘Cape Town Opera’ performing in Israel would be ‘unconscionable’. Those who have stood against previous racist regimes are the conscience of humanity. We are asking you from the rubble of the Gaza ghetto to not turn your backs on us and show us solidarity, as have the musicians Carlos Santana, Lauryn Hill, Cassandra Wilson, Cat Power, Jello Biafra, Lhasa, Roger Waters, Pink Floyd, Elvis Costello, Annie Lennox, Devendra Banhart, Vanessa Paradis, Massive Attack, Gil Scott Heron, Pete Seeger, Gary Moore, the Gorillaz, Leftfield and Faithless.

According to British and Israeli musicians Brian Eno and Ohal Grietzer “The foreign ministry in Israel works hand in hand with show promoters in Israel, who offer skyrocketing monetary compensation for concerts. Their stated goal is to establish a "Brand Israel" associated with liberal pluralism…But the decades-long systematic, often violent and murderous oppression of the Palestinian people has led us and many others to believe that, as in South Africa,boycott is an effective measure for bringing about change and liberation to an "oppressed people."

Be aware that if you were to perform in Israel, most of your audience will have served or are serving in the Israeli army. Many of us are the same age as you. Yet we will never be able to get close to your music due to the strait jacket we are born into, namely, Israel’s permanent siege that restricts most of us from ever leaving Gaza. And why? Because we are Palestinian, the wrong ‘ethnic group’ for Israel’s expansive plans for the region. We are asking you to not help Israel oppress us by not participating in “Brand Israel” when it is a cover for the violent and racist practices of the Israeli state. We hope you will not be entertaining them while they deprive us. While they destroy our hopes as young people.

We love music, we have our own wide range of music and dance that we love to play and perform. But we have few instruments. Israel has removed our music. Israel’s air, land and sea blockade of all our borders has meant for years musical instruments were banned from entry to Gaza as the Israeli Apartheid regime decided that we as Palestinians should also be deprived of coriander, nutmeg, ginger, dried fruit, fresh meat, lentils, pasta, chocolate, donkeys, cattle, fishing rods, toys, workbooks and newspapers. Music reminds us of better times, momentarily drowning the haunting buzz of the drones and screaming of the warplanes that occupy our night skies.

We ask you now to respond to our call from inside the largest open air prison in the world and to not turn your back on us.

We Palestinians here in Gaza dearly hope that one day we will have the right to travel for concerts, to play music and all the rights denied to us that anyone would expect.

We urge you to heed the calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against those denying us this right, to stand on the right side of history by cancelling your concert in Israel

Palestinian Popular Council for Boycott Campaigns

Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)